Free food, comfort in Lahore’s makeshift homeless shelters


LAHORE: Five temporary tents, which were set up in Lahore on the directions of PM Imran Khan to provide relief to the homeless people, provided free food and comfort to those who registered themselves on Sunday.

The tents are functioning near the railway station, Thokar Niaz Baig, Badami Bagh, Sabzi Mandi, and Bhatti Gate. One tent can accommodate up to 70 homeless people or travellers who usually sleep on the footpaths. An officer notes down the names and addresses of the people before giving them space.

The people are provided free pillows, mattresses, comforters, and food, including breakfast, lunch and dinner. The tents will be functional till shelter homes are constructed.

“We thank the government for setting up a place where we can sleep,” said a person who slept in the tent. “Earlier, we used to spend our time on the footpath or somewhere else.”

Social Welfare Officer Arif Mahmood, who is looking after a tent near the railway station, remarked that 47 people slept in the shelter on Saturday and left for work during Sunday morning. He was hopeful that these men would return in the evening.

Earlier in the day, Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar arranged and overviewed tents and food for homeless people sleeping on footpaths after directives issued by the Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The Punjab government has set up makeshift shelters with all facilities for homeless people of Lahore where they can stay and get foodstuff.

PM Imran Khan had asked Punjab CM Usman Buzdar to set up tents and provide food to the homeless people sleeping on footpaths.

In his tweet, the premier had maintained that the homeless must be facilitated until the shelters are built as the weather is gradually turning colder. “I have asked CM Punjab to set up tents for people sleeping on footpaths and provide them food until the Panah Gahs (shelters) are built, as the weather is turning increasingly cold,” he said.

The prime minister has stressed the poor and the homeless needed to be protected and taken care of and added that the PTI government was committed to building a social net for them so that everyone had a shelter and access to health and education. He said those coming to the Panah Gahs represented the voiceless who were not even voters. He said the visitors should also be offered food.

He said that a Board of Governors (BoG) would oversee the maintenance and functioning of these centres. The BoG will finalise the policy for the shelter homes.

The prime minister had called this initiative “first step towards transforming Pakistan into a welfare state”.